Eric Schmidt, the former CEO of Google and one of the largest stakeholders in parent company Alphabet Inc, is to step down from Alphabet’s board next month.
Schmidt’s departure leaves the technology giant without one of its most recognizable political advocates as it faces rising scrutiny about its size, data collection practices and influence.
Schmidt, 64, ran Google from 2001 to 2011, overseeing some of the company’s most enduring acquisitions and skyrocketing revenue growth.
In 2011, after cofounder Larry Page returned as CEO, Schmidt shifted to executive chairman. He also became Google’s de facto ambassador, handling relationships with politicians and pushing the company’s point of view in prickly global fights that Page and his successor, Sundar Pichai, have mostly shunned.
Schmidt is one of three men who control Alphabet’s Class B shares, which have 10 times the voting rights of regular shares.
He was the third-largest owner of those shares with 8.6 percent, a regulatory filing showed on Tuesday.
Google cofounders Page and Sergey Brin each own more than 40 percent.
Diane Greene, a board member since 2012 and the former chief of Google’s cloud-computing unit, is also to leave the board, Alphabet said on Tuesday in a statement.
Schmidt and Greene agreed to step down during the board’s meeting on Wednesday last week, a company filing said.
Schmidt is to serve as a technical adviser with a salary of US$1.
Alphabet named Robin Washington, chief financial officer of Gilead Sciences Inc, as a director.
Washington also serves on the board of Honeywell International Inc and Salesforce.com Inc. She has worked at Gilead, a pharmaceutical firm, since 2014.
“Eric has made an extraordinary contribution to Google and Alphabet as CEO, chairman and board member. We are extremely grateful for his guidance and leadership over many years,” Alphabet chairman John Hennessy said in the statement.
Schmidt stepped down in December 2017 from his role as chairman with little explanation.
Schmidt and Greene are to serve on Alphabet’s board until their terms expire on June 19.
Greene, an enterprise software veteran, ran Google’s cloud division from 2015 until leaving that role in January.
The pair are leaving as the board is under fire for the way it has handled the departure of several former executives.
Multiple shareholders have accused the directors of signing off on bonus payments to Andy Rubin, a former Google executive, despite knowledge of credible sexual harassment charges against him.
When news of the payouts came out, thousands of Google employees marched out of their offices in protest.
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